Managing an energetic dog – what you need to know about mental stimulation
Do you have a high energy dog? Maybe they behave in particular ways in a bid to get some loving attention from you? You might find that they’re knocking things over, barking a lot or can’t sit still for long... in this case, your furry friend might need some fulfilling mental stimulation – for the times you can’t be there to give it to them!
Like us, all dogs benefit from mental stimulation, but some are predisposed to needing it more than others. In this blog, we’ll have a look at some of the dog breeds that are prone to needing extra mental stimulation; exploring where it stems from and why it’s important.
Company of Animals’ Dr. Roger Mugford is offering his advice on the topic, using his extensive knowledge in pet psychology and behavior.
Playing with purpose
Dogs are born carnivores, Dr. Mugford explains, so they have always had to work for their food. Planning and putting in effort to catch their prey is something that these dogs, in their primitive days, did.
Hunting requires a lot of mental capacity, something particular breeds of dog have built up. So, if we look at this in comparison to the modern day, where a lot of dogs are kept as pets and no longer have these challenges, we can see how they might feel under-stimulated on a day-to-day basis. “These species are used to working for their food.” says Dr. Mugford.
This is why the smart toy PupPod is such a beneficial tool for dogs; as well as being a highly entertaining game, it also helps to give dogs the meaningful stimulation that they inherently crave. The two-piece device also encourages dogs to work for their food, helping dogs connect with that aspect of mealtimes that they’re historically accustomed to.
Without mental stimulation dogs can:
- Be depressed
- Age prematurely
- Engage in excessive self-licking and gnawing
- Behave in undesirable ways
- Bark excessively
- Get over excited when seeing people and other dogs
Breeds that need frequent stimulation
Below you can see some of the breeds that Dr. Mugford suggests need that bit more mental stimulation over others. It also aligns with the data we’ve collected, as these dogs tend to get higher achievement counts!
Border collies are born working dogs. It’s in their blood – so naturally they have an innate tendency to thrive off spending their days being active.
“These breeds are incredibly clever, with parallels having been foun
d between border collies and children around the age of four years,” says Dr. Mugford. Border collies also have extensive word memories, with great word retention.
Their willingness to work hard means that when they aren’t stimulated, they can end up behaving badly. Some border collies that Dr. Mugford has worked with tend to engage in strategic, attention seeking behaviors - especially when they know their owner is about to leave them alone.
Springer spaniels are a breed most commonly used by search organizations, not least because of their highly focused nature and their perseverance.
Springer spaniels tend to be repetitive in their behavior, even when there is no reward in sight. In PupPod terms, this means they might end up getting to a high level on the game, striving to keep going – treat or no treat!
They are dogs that like a challenge - take their use in missing persons searches - so they really need mental stimulation. “Their accomplishments are a combination of drive and genetic intelligence,” says Dr. Mugford.
Dr. Mugford also lists poodles as one of the breeds that will usually need their owner to keep them entertained. Miniature poodles in particular tend to be used as guide dogs for the blind, according to Dr Mugford.
Psychologist and pHD, Stanley Coren, also states that poodles are the second smartest breed of dog, so, their need for stimulation is no surprise.
“Belgian shepherds are motivated, and their work ethic is strong,” says Dr. Mugford, adding, “They would really benefit from PupPod!”.
Belgian shepherds, like the other dog breeds already named, are traditionally working dogs. Their history of being used to work means that they are predisposed to craving a purpose, which is likely the reason they need greater stimulation.
Using PupPod to aid mental stimulation
The breeds above are, from Dr. Roger’s perspective, some of the breeds that are likely to need mental stimulation a little more than others. However, all dog breeds can have a more fulfilling life when frequently stimulated – something pet parents can give them the tools to do so!
“Dogs are remarkably like humans. It’s why they are the planet’s most successful companion animal,” Dr. Mugford says.
Using an intelligent, technology-empowered game like PupPod for your canine companion will encourage cognitive development, keep your dog happy and entertained, and take some weight off your shoulders knowing that they’ll be staying out of trouble... (although that’s not a promise!)
Want to give your dog the TLC it deserves? Take a look at PupPod in action in our live demo.